Dangerous Toys


You and your cat may have very different views on what makes an excellent cat toy. Many commonly used cat toys can be quite dangerous, whether they are homemade, purchased or found (by your cat, usually without your knowledge). Often, the objects that cats find most attractive are the very items that can most easily cause harm. Aluminum foil balls, corks and balls of cellophane all have tremendous appeal as toys; cats especially love the texture. But a piece of cork can cause choking; a piece of aluminum foil is not digestible and can block the intestine; and cellophane cigarette wrappers turn glassy when they come into contact with the digestive juices in the cat's stomach. Cuts from such cellophane can cause death by internal hemorrhage. In addition, many toys sold in pet shops and supermarkets feature small parts and decorations that fall off or can be chewed off. Such toys can choke your cat, so beware as you make your purchases, and be sure to replace toys immediately if they have parts that appear to be loosening or wearing out.

We've all seen stereotypical pictures of kittens playing with a ball of yarn, but this can quickly become a horror story. Cats have barbs on their tongues and the roof of their mouths, which makes it virtually impossible for them to spit anything out. This means that once they start to swallow a piece of yarn, they can't stop, they can only swallow more. Strangulation is a very serious possible consequence. The same holds true for rubber bands, string and Christmas decorations such as artificial icicles and tinsel. Common, everyday items like these can become wrapped around the tongue or intestine. Surgery can sometimes save an animal in such a situation, but all too often surgery is too late. It is acceptable to let your cat chase a piece of string or play with a ball of yarn, but only under close supervision. This kind of play activity is an excellent way to interact with your feline friend. When providing toys for your cat:

  • Purchase only toys that are sturdy and securely sewn together so they can't be easily torn apart.
  • Do not allow the cat to play with any object that could easily be swallowed.
  • Use nothing smaller than a ping-pong ball as a cat toy to avoid the possibility of her choking on it.
  • Avoid toys with loose or sharp parts.
  • Avoid toys that have ribbons, feathers, strings, eyes or other small parts that could fall off, be removed, chewed and/or eaten.
  • Consider soft, stuffed toys, which should be machine washable. Check labels for child safety; a stuffed toy that is labeled as safe for children under three years old must not contain dangerous fillings.
  • If you sew, knit or do any kind of needlework or crafts, keep materials completely hidden in a hamper or sewing box.